Letter | Published:

Lateral Preferences in the Monkey

Nature volume 204, page 606 (07 November 1964) | Download Citation



THERE is general agreement that the majority of monkeys show lateral preferences on a particular task1–6, about as many animals showing a strong preference for the left hand as for the right. However, Ettlinger5 reported that significantly more monkeys preferred to use the left hand than the right on their first discrimination task (irrespective of the task being visual or tactile). Seventeen of the 42 monkeys showed a strong preference for the left hand, six for the right and 19 animals showed weak or ambiguous preferences. Brookshire and Warren6, as a result of their more comprehensive investigation of lateral preferences under a variety of test conditions, wrote: “Four monkeys were judged to have had a predominantly right-hand preference, nine were judged left-handed, and six were considered either ambidextrous or without definite preference”. It is not yet known what factors are associated with the preferential use of a particular hand (left or right) on a given task6. If a significant asymmetry in the incidence of lateral preferences in favour of the left (or right) hand can be established it will be important to seek for neural or other correlates in a species which is generally considered to lack cerebral dominance.

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    , J. Genet. Psychol., 52, 375 (1938).

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    , Science, 118, 622 (1953).

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    , J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 50, 296 (1957).

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    , J. Genet. Psychol., 93, 229 (1958).

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    , Behaviour, 17, 275 (1961).

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    , and , Animal Behaviour, 10, 222 (1962).

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  1. Department of Experimental Neurology, Institute of Psychiatry, London, S.E.5.

    •  & A. MOFFETT


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